Laws banning sexual assault of animals

2023 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings

Select an animal law category to view 2023 trends:

Prohibitions on Sexual Assault

◼︎Defines and prohibits sexual assault of animals
◼︎Prohibits “crimes against nature” or something similar
◼︎ Does not prohibit sexual assault of animals

*New/revised in 2023

A continuing trend in 2023 was the enactment of laws prohibiting the sexual assault of animals. Currently, every state except West Virginia has some law banning sexual assault of animals, with New Mexico and the District of Columbia enacting such laws for the first time in 2023, and Connecticut enacting a law enabling successful prosecutions for those who sexually assault animals. This trend has been continuing strongly for the past six years, with 17 states plus D.C. and Guam revising their laws or enacting brand new laws prohibiting the sexual assault of animals during that time.

Connecticut, New Mexico, and D.C.’s new laws not only thoroughly define sexual assault of animals, but they also prohibit other related acts. For example, Connecticut and D.C. both now prohibit the creation and distribution of any recordings of an animal being sexually assaulted, and New Mexico prohibits selling or transferring an animal for the purpose of sexual assault. Additionally, both Connecticut and New Mexico’s laws include mandatory possession bans after conviction, prohibiting any offender from owning or residing with an animal for several years.

Even with the vast improvements that have been made over the past six years, there is still more work to be done. West Virginia, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands have yet to enact laws prohibiting sexual assault of animals. Additionally, 10 states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have antiquated or otherwise insufficient laws addressing this issue, prohibiting things like “crimes against nature.” Such laws are vague, and therefore difficult to enforce. Maryland repealed its archaic law prohibiting “unnatural or perverted practices” in 2023, after having enacted a much more comprehensive law in 2019.

You Can Protect Animals

Since 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has led the charge to win animals the legal protection they so desperately need—and deserve. Your generous gift will assure that we can continue to take on cases that advance the interests of animals.